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Confronting Postmaternal ThinkingFeminism, Memory, and Care$
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Julie Stephens

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231149211

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231149211.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Confronting Postmaternal Thinking

Julie Stephens

Columbia University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book’s main themes. This book seeks to develop, and carefully build up, a picture of postmaternal thinking. At the heart of postmaterial thinking is the wider cultural anxiety around nurture, human dependency, caregiving, and emotion. The book explores various ways the maternal and the values associated with maternal forms of care have been largely rejected in the public sphere, and marginalized or conflicted in the private domain. It argues that the privatization of maternal ideas, ethics, and forms of selfhood has had profound social and political consequences. Moreover, diminishing the public relevance of mothering as a model for social forms of care has also taken a toll on the personal lives of women. It has shaped contemporary ways feminism has been remembered and contributed to the current dominance of a degendered form of feminism. In short, postmaternal thinking functions like a prevailing ideology. It is a cultural distortion that reinforces unjust social relations, hides the significance of gendered care, and inhibits different ways of imagining social and political alternatives.

Keywords:   maternalism, postmaternal thinking, cultural anxiety, feminism, social relations, mothering, women

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